From a Canvas to a Lion Puzzle:
This past Christmas season my mother was kind enough to give me a painting that her mother, my grandmother, painted when I was four. The image triggered a host of colorful memories which included trips to their house and all of the things we would do there as children. In the back of my mind I wanted to make a lion puzzle of this canvas painting. That was six months ago. Recently I was able to set aside some time to quietly relax and enjoy the colorful print. I wanted to absorb the process of cutting the puzzle with no pressure of completion.
The Story Behind the Puzzle:
Grandma Sherman loved to paint. I adore the colors she used in this painting. In fact, she shared this passion with her daughter Sue. The trips to her house stood out the most though. Our family vehicle was a little brown four door Datson. That car took us all over the place. Errands with mom to the post office, neighborly visits to friends, and to the grocery store. You see, that vehicle was made back in the days before there were child safety seats, car seats, booster seats or whatever harness you choose to use to strap your child in with now-a-days. Heck we were lucky to have our behinds in a seat of our own! With six kids, plus mom and dad it was a tight squeeze. So most of the times we were either sitting on someone’s lap or they they were sitting on us! Not the most comfortable situation, but we lived.
Every so often though we would load everybody in that Datson, pack the trunk, and drive from Mississippi to Florida to grandma’s house. I don’t recall how many times we traveled to and from each state. What I do remember is it was utter chaos!
“Tonia keeps looking at m…” my brother retorted as he was hastily interrupted by, “Stop bothering your sister and roll down the window, now!”
At this point my fathers eyeballs would be getting fairly huge. You could tell he was irritated. Then of course there was the bulging vein in his for-head. That look on his face pretty much meant someone was about to get clonked! All he could muster though was a quick turn of his head from driving to eye up the ruckus. Then his eyes were back on the road.
“Greeeeeat!!” my father said.
Luckily there was a rest stop not to far ahead. Once we were parked everyone piled out of the car to stretch our legs and get the blood flowing again. Since we were stopped someone had the bright idea of opening the trunk. It was jam-packed full of stuff, opening it was like popping a balloon! The contents splattered all over the pavement. Now getting everything back in there was going to be a delight.
My father hastily returned from the rest stop bathroom with Michael in tow. He was determined to get back on the road. Now was the ideal time for “I am thirsty!” and “I am hungry!” to chime in. Upon his arrival my father realized the trunk was open, the kids were all over the place, and he wasn’t going anywhere!
He was then greeted with, “Did he wash his hands?”
As time stretched on and the roadways faded into a blur of motion we could always tell when we were getting close to grandma’s house. Green palm trees would begin shooting out of the landscape. West Palm Beach it was called. Arrival meant plenty of hello’s and greeting hugs. Us kids would of course run out of the car and Grandpa would pick up the ones he could. The remaining slackers would grapple a leg then sit on a foot. The poor guy would be immobilized! Mom would get teary eyed to see her mom and my dad would talk with his hands because that’s what salesmen do! Before heading inside I could always spot a few of the many lizards within grandma’s garden.
“Don’t mess with those lizards,” grandma would say. “They will get scared and their tails will pop off!” Which I had happen a few times, its really messy!
Once inside there was always plenty to do. Our grandma had a huge box filled to the brim with toys play with. We always destroyed her living room with the mess we made but I don’t think she minded all that much. Eventually mom and grandma would disappear off by them selves talking about this and that. Catching up on all the neighborhood gossip and do-dads. Grandma would share her new oil paintings and techniques. Grandpa would sit and play with us and tell us stories about gymnastics. He had a great bellowing laugh. He would tell us about the Iron Cross move and how he used hold onto two metal rings attached to the ceiling with rope. Eventually him and my father would talk for hours. I didn’t pay attention to much to what they were saying since there we so many toys to play with!
I specifically remember a large variety of toy soldiers, dinosaurs, and there was a rocking horse as well. All different kinds of blocks, toy truck, old cars, dump trucks, concrete trucks, race cars. Once we had safely played ourselves into the evening it would time for dinner. Then bed time would fall shortly there after.
After an evening or a whole day, possibly even a weekend it would be time to head back home. All the toys would be put away and everything would be packed tightly into the car once again. There were tears of I-will-miss-yous and hugs-of-good bye. Once all the heads were present and accounted for our final departure commenced!
Out of the corner of my eye as we were driving away I saw grandma standing in the street. I turned around in my seat to get a full view and there she was in the middle of the road making a silly face. With her thumbs planted loosely in her ears she stuck her tongue out and made an even sillier face! It was her way of saying goodbye.
Lion Puzzle Completion Notes:
The three high resolution scans from the local print shop gave me the pieces I needed for the initial print. The scans then needed to be flawlessly merged together into one image. I then printed the image with a few adjustments in brightness and contrast. At that point I could start the puzzle cutting process. The over all size of the print (pre-cutting) was roughly 16 x 24 with an estimated piece count of 450 pieces. The puzzle piece size and shape wound up being slightly larger then I would have normally cut but I wanted to enjoy the process as opposed focusing on making the pieces as small as possible. I plan on taking it apart and doing an exact piece count on Fathers Day of 2014, tomorrow. As well as enjoying a day of puzzle assembly!